Publications

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2018
Fine, EC, MacKinnon JA, Alford MH, Mickett JB.  2018.  Microstructure observations of turbulent heat fluxes in a warm-core Canada Basin eddy. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 48:2397-2418.   10.1175/jpo-d-18-0028.1   AbstractWebsite

An intrahalocline eddy was observed on the Chukchi slope in September of 2015 using both towed CTD and microstructure temperature and shear sections. The core of the eddy was 6 degrees C, significantly warmer than the surrounding -1 degrees C water and far exceeding typical temperatures of warm-core Arctic eddies. Microstructure sections indicated that outside of the eddy the rate of dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy epsilon was quite low . Three different processes were associated with elevated epsilon. Double-diffusive steps were found at the eddy's top edge and were associated with an upward heat flux of 5 W m(-2). At the bottom edge of the eddy, shear-driven mixing played a modest role, generating a heat flux of approximately 0.5 W m(-2) downward. Along the sides of the eddy, density-compensated thermohaline intrusions transported heat laterally out of the eddy, with a horizontal heat flux of 2000 W m(-2). Integrating these fluxes over an idealized approximation of the eddy's shape, we estimate that the net heat transport due to thermohaline intrusions along the eddy flanks was 2 GW, while the double-diffusive flux above the eddy was 0.4 GW. Shear-driven mixing at the bottom of the eddy accounted for only 0.04 GW. If these processes continued indefinitely at the same rate, the estimated life-span would be 1-2 years. Such eddies may be an important mechanism for the transport of Pacific-origin heat, freshwater, and nutrients into the Canada Basin.

2017
Alberty, MS, Sprintall J, MacKinnon J, Ganachaud A, Cravatte S, Eldin G, Germineaud C, Melet A.  2017.  Spatial patterns of mixing in the Solomon Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 122:4021-4039.   10.1002/2016jc012666   AbstractWebsite

The Solomon Sea is a marginal sea in the southwest Pacific that connects subtropical and equatorial circulation, constricting transport of South Pacific Subtropical Mode Water and Antarctic Intermediate Water through its deep, narrow channels. Marginal sea topography inhibits internal waves from propagating out and into the open ocean, making these regions hot spots for energy dissipation and mixing. Data from two hydrographic cruises and from Argo profiles are employed to indirectly infer mixing from observations for the first time in the Solomon Sea. Thorpe and finescale methods indirectly estimate the rate of dissipation of kinetic energy (E) and indicate that it is maximum in the surface and thermocline layers and decreases by 2-3 orders of magnitude by 2000 m depth. Estimates of diapycnal diffusivity from the observations and a simple diffusive model agree in magnitude but have different depth structures, likely reflecting the combined influence of both diapycnal mixing and isopycnal stirring. Spatial variability of E is large, spanning at least 2 orders of magnitude within isopycnal layers. Seasonal variability of E reflects regional monsoonal changes in large-scale oceanic and atmospheric conditions with E increased in July and decreased in March. Finally, tide power input and topographic roughness are well correlated with mean spatial patterns of mixing within intermediate and deep isopycnals but are not clearly correlated with thermocline mixing patterns. Plain Language Summary In the ocean, a number of physical processes move heat, salt, and nutrients around vertically by mixing neighboring layers of the ocean together. This study investigates the strength and spatial patterns of this mixing in the Solomon Sea, which is located in the tropical west Pacific Ocean. Estimates of the strength of mixing are made using measurements of temperature, salinity, and velocity taken during two scientific cruises in the Solomon Sea. Measurements of temperature and salinity from a network of floats that move up and down through the ocean and travel with ocean currents were also used to estimate the strength and patterns of mixing. This research finds three key results for mixing in the Solomon Sea: (1) Mixing is strongest near the surface of the Solomon Sea and less strong at deeper depths. (2) Mixing varies horizontally, with stronger mixing above underwater ridges and seamounts, and with weaker mixing above smooth and flat seafloor. (3) The strength of mixing changes with the seasons, possibly related to the monsoonal winds which also change in strength over the seasons.

2016
Musgrave, RC, MacKinnon JA, Pinkel R, Waterhouse AF, Nash J.  2016.  Tidally driven processes leading to near-field turbulence in a channel at the crest of the Mendocino Escarpment*. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 46:1137-1155.   10.1175/jpo-d-15-0021.1   AbstractWebsite

In situ observations of tidally driven turbulence were obtained in a small channel that transects the crest of the Mendocino Ridge, a site of mixed (diurnal and semidiurnal) tides. Diurnal tides are subinertial at this latitude, and once per day a trapped tide leads to large flows through the channel giving rise to tidal excursion lengths comparable to the width of the ridge crest. During these times, energetic turbulence is observed in the channel, with overturns spanning almost half of the full water depth. A high-resolution, nonhydrostatic, 2.5-dimensional simulation is used to interpret the observations in terms of the advection of a breaking tidal lee wave that extends from the ridge crest to the surface and the subsequent development of a hydraulic jump on the flanks of the ridge. Modeled dissipation rates show that turbulence is strongest on the flanks of the ridge and that local dissipation accounts for 28% of the energy converted from the barotropic tide into baroclinic motion.

Alford, MH, MacKinnon JA, Simmons HL, Nash JD.  2016.  Near-inertial internal gravity waves in the ocean. Annual Review of Marine Science, Vol 8. 8( Carlson CA, Giovannoni SJ, Eds.).:95-123., Palo Alto: Annual Reviews   10.1146/annurev-marine-010814-015746   Abstract

We review the physics of near-inertial waves (NIWs) in the ocean and the observations, theory, and models that have provided our present knowledge. NIWs appear nearly everywhere in the ocean as a spectral peak at and just above the local inertial period f, and the longest vertical wavelengths can propagate at least hundreds of kilometers toward the equator from their source regions; shorter vertical wavelengths do not travel as far and do not contain as much energy, but lead to turbulent mixing owing to their high shear. NIWs are generated by a variety of mechanisms, including the wind, nonlinear interactions with waves of other frequencies, lee waves over bottom topography, and geostrophic adjustment; the partition among these is not known, although the wind is likely the most important. NIWs likely interact strongly with mesoscale and submesoscale motions, in ways that are just beginning to be understood.

2013
MacKinnon, J, St Laurent L, Naveira Garabato AC.  2013.  Diapycnal Mixing Processes in the Ocean Interior. Ocean Circulation and Climate: A 21st Century Perspective. 103( Siedler G, Griffies SM, Gould J, Church JA, Eds.).:159-183.: Academic Press   10.1016/B978-0-12-391851-2.00007-6   Abstract

Diapycnal mixing in the ocean interior is driven by a wide range of processes, each with distinct governing physics and unique global geography. Here we review the primary processes responsible for turbulent mixing in the ocean interior, with an emphasis on active work from the past decade. We conclude with a discussion of global patterns of mixing and their importance for regional and large-scale modeling accuracy.

Frants, M, Damerell GM, Gille ST, Heywood KJ, MacKinnon J, Sprintall J.  2013.  An assessment of density-based finescale methods for estimating diapycnal diffusivity in the Southern Ocean. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. 30:2647-2661.   10.1175/jtech-d-12-00241.1   AbstractWebsite

Finescale estimates of diapycnal diffusivity are computed from CTD and expendable CTD (XCTD) data sampled in Drake Passage and in the eastern Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean and are compared against microstructure measurements from the same times and locations. The microstructure data show vertical diffusivities that are one-third to one-fifth as large over the smooth abyssal plain in the southeastern Pacific as they are in Drake Passage, where diffusivities are thought to be enhanced by the flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current over rough topography. Finescale methods based on vertical strain estimates are successful at capturing the spatial variability between the low-mixing regime in the southeastern Pacific and the high-mixing regime of Drake Passage. Thorpe-scale estimates for the same dataset fail to capture the differences between Drake Passage and eastern Pacific estimates. XCTD profiles have lower vertical resolution and higher noise levels after filtering than CTD profiles, resulting in XCTD estimates that are, on average, an order of magnitude higher than CTD estimates. Overall, microstructure diffusivity estimates are better matched by strain-based estimates than by estimates based on Thorpe scales, and CTD data appear to perform better than XCTD data. However, even the CTD-based strain diffusivity estimates can differ from microstructure diffusivities by nearly an order of magnitude, suggesting that density-based fine-structure methods of estimating mixing from CTD or XCTD data have real limitations in low-stratification regimes such as the Southern Ocean.